The police don’t have a warrant.  Can they search me?

There are some circumstances where you, your home or your vehicle can be searched without a warrant.

Searching your home without a warrant

The police are able to enter and search your residence without a warrant in several circumstances, including:-

  • they have a reasonable suspicion that evidence will be destroyed if they wait for a warrant;
  • they are required to enter to arrest someone;
  • there is a crime scene;
  • they must enter the property to prevent domestic or family violence occurring;
  • they need to enter to investigate a traffic offence (such as obtaining a breath test);

There are several other circumstances in which officers can enter your home without a warrant.

You should seek legal advice if you believe your home has been entered unlawfully.

Searching you without a warrant

The police can search you without a warrant if they reasonably suspect that you are carrying various items, including:-

  • dangerous drugs;
  • stolen property;
  • a weapon (or any item you intend to use to harm yourself or others);
  • evidence of an offence (in certain circumstances).

You may also be searched if there is a reasonable suspicion that you are carrying tools that are used to break into houses or cars.

The police must respect your dignity and ensure minimal embarrassment to you.  They must also limit public searches to frisking and conduct anything more thorough away from public view (where possible).

Searching your car without a warrant

The police can search your vehicle without a warrant should they reasonably suspect there are certain items in the vehicle, including:-

  • dangerous drugs;
  • stolen property;
  • a weapon (or any item you intend to use to harm yourself or others);
  • evidence of an offence (in certain circumstances);
  • tools used to break into houses or other vehicles.

The police are also able to intercept, detain and search a vehicle to arrest someone if they reasonably suspect the vehicle is being used unlawfully.

Do I have to consent to the search?

You do not have to consent.  If you do not consent, you should clearly tell the attending officers that you do not want to be searched and do not agree to it being conducted.

However, the officers do not require your consent if one of the above circumstances apply.

You should comply with any direction given to you by the police, regardless of whether you consent.  If you do not comply with the directions, you may be charged with obstructing a police officer or failing to comply with a direction.

You can contact our office on 07 4963 2000 or via our online contact form if you would like to speak to one of our solicitors in relation to being searched by the police.

Cassandra Adorni-Braccesi Solicitor, Wallace & Wallace Lawyers Mackay

Cassandra Adorni-Braccesi
Criminal Law

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